My Grandma Ruby lives in a care home. Currently, she is bound to a wheelchair and needs much care and assistance with her daily needs. She is as sharp as a tack and has a very positive attitude. When I was young, I used to sleep over at Grandma’s with my brother Tod and cousin Liane. My best memories with Grandma are that she made the best namasu, never yelled at us, and when we left her house she would watch and wave at us from her porch as we drove away until we could not see her anymore. I would watch for as long as I possibly could and she would be waving until the very end. Not once did I see her go into the house before she was totally out of my sight.
It is important that Grandma who loves us so much, is happy with where she lives and the care that she receives. I also have recently helped a client at my family’s accounting firm transition from a private care home that was in a house into a community. I have been observing the vast differences in types of care and felt that in deciding the most suitable care for those we love, it can be overwhelming and there are some important things to consider when finding the perfect place.
1. Location. Be sure it is a place that is in a good location, where many family members can come to visit. Earlier this year one of our friends moved to a care home recommended by a hospital that he was discharged from. His sister did not drive and could not visit him because he was so far away. She is in her 80’s and her brother is 90. I assisted in moving him closer to her home and right on the bus line. Now she visits him almost everyday. Location is so important.
2. Visiting Hours. I was shocked to find out that one care home only allowed family and friends to visit between 9:00 am and 10:00 am. One hour?! Yes, very inconvenient if you ask me. Make sure family and friends are able to visit at any reasonable hour of the day. It is the home of your loved one after all, the care home should welcome visitors because it is good for the well being of those who live there.
3. What levels of care do they provide? People enter a care home at various levels of wellness. If that level of wellness changes in such a way that more care is needed, will that care home be prepared for this change? Some care homes are not prepared and the resident might be required to find a new facility to provide them with a higher level of care.
4. Financing. What are the financial requirements for the care home you are considering? Some communities require applicants to have a certain amount of assets to qualify as well as a “buy in” sum upward from $200,000. What is the base monthly charge? If they use certain supplies like adult diapers, first aid supplies, toiletries, etc., is there an extra charge? Also the type of insurance a person has may also affect the type of care he/she receives.
5. Medication Management. Some care home residents need their medication to be managed by the care home. In his case, the care home will keep track of when they are supposed to take their prescribed medications. Usually there is also an extra monthly charge for this service. Ask the care home what their process is and who is responsible for refilling the medication. A good care home will also be in contact with the resident’s physician(s) and some even have a consulting pharmacist to advise the administering nurses and the residents.
6. Activities. Smaller care homes, especially those in residential homes, provide a television with cable. They may have some activities in the home, as well as outdoors depending on the health of the resident. Larger care homes tend to have a larger variety of activities like music, trivia games, bingo, and arts and crafts. My grandma loves to get involve with games and get her nails done by volunteers. There is usually a library with books and periodicals. Some even have iMac computers, exercise classes, a gym, and therapy pools. Movie night and musical entertainment can also be enjoyed by the residents.
7. Food. Some places have a menu you can choose from everyday or at least a few things to chose from. Other places just have the same meals for everyone. Most places offer Japanese, Filipino, and Hawaiian food among other local favorites. Also, ask what the feeding schedule is like and what the rules are regarding outside food. Some places also have a dietician to consult with to ensure that the residents’ nutritional needs are being met.
8. Communication. You should also find out what the process is when there is an update on your family member resident. If (s)he gets injured or ill, they should call a family representative within a reasonable amount of time. There should also be a periodic meeting with family representatives, usually held quarterly. This is a time when the care and condition is discussed with some of the staff and when decisions can be made or questions may be asked.
I am not a healthcare professional, but having grandparents on both sides of my family live well into their 80’s and 90’s as well as having assisted someone find a new place, I have visited many facilities and there is a huge variance in the types of care that is here on Oahu. In order to find the right fit for your loved one, I suggest visiting a few places and taking tours. If you consider the points I have mentioned, I believe you are likely to find an environment for your senior loved one to thrive in.